Wagner women battle for Bayreuth

DPA/The Local
DPA/The Local - [email protected]
Wagner women battle for Bayreuth
A scene from Wagner's Nibelungen in 2007. Photo: DPA

While it now seems certain that Germany’s famed Bayreuth festival will pass into the hands of two Wagner women, the question is, which two?


The drama over the future of the Wagner festival escalated on Sunday when Nike Wagner, 62, composer Richard Wagner’s great-granddaughter, said she would continue to fight to become the festival’s next artistic director together with her cousin, Eva Wagner-Pasquier, 63.

“The festival foundation’s board members have had our concept since March 31,” Nike Wagner told German news agency, DPA.

But only days ago, 88-year-old Wolfgang Wagner, the composer’s grandson and head of the festival since 1966, said he was prepared to hand over the reins to Eva, and his other daughter from a second marriage, Katharina Wagner, 29.

The news came as a surprise, as the half-sisters have made no effort to conceal their enmity over the years. On Friday, however, festival press spokesman Peter Emmerich told press agencies that the relationship between Eva and Katharina is “better than it used to be” and that they can now imagine working with each other under certain conditions.

For her part, Nike Wagner said she was “surprised” to hear that Eva and Katharina had been asked by Bavarian arts minister, Thomas Goppel, to submit a joint proposal for the future of the festival.

In several interviews over the past few days, Katharina has confirmed that she is working on a proposal with her half-sister, though it remains unclear what has become of her partnership with Nike.

Katharina made her directing debut in Bayreuth last year with a controversial production of “The Mastersingers of Nuremberg” that upset many Wagner fans.

The Wagner festival is Germany’s best-known opera spectacle, and has been continually sold out since its inauguration in 1876.


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